Former Special Forces soldier Hank Fleming is living a safe, quiet life in upstate New York, but there are days he isn’t sure he’s going to make it. The sole survivor of a devastating grenade attack in Afghanistan, he is still scarred, physically and emotionally. He hangs on to his faith and tries to keep moving forward, waiting for the day that something—or someone—can make him feel whole again.
Cindy Giordano is searching too—for her biological family and a fresh start. When her journey to find her brother, Edward, leads to Hank’s front door, she is instantly drawn to Hank . . . and instantly wary. With her ex-fiancé’s betrayal still fresh in her mind, friendship is about all she can muster.
When shadows from Cindy’s past threaten, Hank’s protective instincts shift into high gear, and he realizes everyone has their own battles to fight. But the road to healing would be much sweeter with the right person by his side . . .
Hank Fleming peeled off his cold, wet T-shirt and tossed it aside in
the dark. The nightmare clung to his psyche even as he stood at his hotel
room window staring into the night illuminated by only a stingy sliver of
moon. Whitecaps danced like ghostly apparitions across the pitch-black
ocean surface, adding to his uneasiness.
Was this reality, here, now, with his toes deep in the plush carpeting
of a resort hotel in Miami Beach with the air conditioner humming? Or
was the real Hank Fleming still lying on the ground in Afghanistan, a
soldier bleeding from multiple wounds with his left eye dangling off his
cheekbone by a few threads of nerves?
If only he could erase the images. The sounds. The RPG blast. The
roaring fire consuming what was left of the truck he’d been driving with
four men inside. But most of all their horrible deaths.
Hank willed his breaths to an even cadence and reined in his galloping
heart. The rat-a-tat of M4 rifles, acrid smell of burning rubber, and the unit
medic’s face started to dissolve as if being sucked, particle-by-particle,
feature-by-feature, back into another realm.
Hank brought his fingers to the eyepatch that covered his left eye socket
and pressed the fabric into the hidden void. Reality, harsh and merciless,
stung him to the core. He’d lost an eye, hearing in one ear, and bore fading
scars where the explosion had hurled shrapnel into his flesh. But, he’d
survived while four of his fellow soldiers perished.
Hank lifted his gaze to the crescent moon. “Why, God? Why?”
Irene Onorato was born and raised in Bronx, New York. Her father, a first-generation American whose parents were born in Italy, was an Army veteran who had served with the 178th combat engineers during WWII. He told numerous stories of battles, hardships, tragedies and triumphs. The glimpses he gave into the hearts of many American warriors would later become the inspiration for much of Irene’s writings.
In 1972, a few months after graduating high school, Irene met James Onorato, a soldier who had just returned from Vietnam. After dating two weeks, they married, raised three children, and are still happily married today.
Irene and James, both radiation protection technicians, retired from the nuclear power industry in 2014 and now reside in Louisiana. Readers can visit Irene’s website at ireneonorato.com, and find her on Facebook.
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